Why does everyone feel so humble? Is this a sign of true greatness always? If I were Manna Dey, I’d either sit quietly with a glass of honeyed water and keep doing my riyaz, as he indeed does, or tell those blokes who decide on giving national awards to go stuff it.
A man has sung over 3000 songs, is over 90 years old and some politicians and bureaucrats decide they need to give him something he can die peacefully with? What nonsense. This has been happening for years and these awards have become just a plaything for some people. Who knows? Some babu must have been sitting with his cheap rum at a sidey club and heard the strains of some Mannada song, maybe “Ai meri zohra jabeen” and his wife blushed thinking he looked so happy and hummed along for her, this tubby hubby of hers who spends time pushing files away from his desk and looking for every opportunity to show his power.
So, she is smiling and saying, “O ji, such a lhuuvly song. Reminds me of old days…” even if those old days were as exciting as parathas on the tawaa. Husband realises in his slightly tipsy state that there is this singer and he should propose his name for the Dadasaheb Phalke Award. And they all gather and say, “Haan ji…”
These are mostly such haan ji moments.
To say that Manna De deserved it would be reducing him.
I cannot say I like everything he sang and I find that number from Zanjeer, "Yaari hai imaan mera, yaar meri zindagi" execrable. I also do not like his rendition of "Pyaar hua, iqraar hua, pyaar se phir kyon darta hai dil”. This is an out and out Shanker-Jaikishen triumph.
His range was in the songs, not the voice (the exception being "Eik chatur naar" from Padosan). And I say was because of his old songs. "Poochcho na kaise maine raen bitayee" and "Sur na saje kya gaaoon main" have very strong memories. They were sung at our house since I was a child, a state so pure that it recognises purity and ensures it retains.
I personally like this one because it is so quiet…like a pin in the haystack. It can still hurt. And make you ache…
Ye kooche ye neelaamghar - Manna Dey